Today's poem is by Henry Wei Leung

Life Sentences Sonnet for The Goddess
        Tiananmen Square, June 1989

You were born in papier-mâché, a face plastered white, a thirty-
three foot emolument on the fourth day, facing the portrait of the
Chairman of Mao.

Father died that year we snuck through Hong Kong for San Francisco
you were not the Statue of Liberty we landed in the great quake.

Nushen, "goddess" — not far from nusheng, "schoolgirl" — your hair
cropped like Mother's—like that girl ruling masses from a megaphone
— her skinny hand pocketed — her four abortions.

And wasn't I the forgery of a body never meant, never mine, never
mind, so that someone in the rubble would forever look like me?

Goddess, your body was expedited from the body of a man leaning
on a pole, flipped upright. Severed, his pole became your torch.

Some people have stared at heaven's gate for decades waiting for a
sign. Some people settled, and settle for seams.

A tank severed your hand, then the rest. You reemerged in harder
mediums in tourist troves, where I was taught to lust for image, just

I fell in love with love's treasons. Which of these remain forbidden
words: goddess, swallow, roam, freedom, I?

G.O.D. in Hong Kong means Goods of Desire, a fashion brand which
sounds like jyu hou di: "live better." Does anyone say "God" except at
first mistaken sight? Goddess of—

One day, my heartbeat quit its symmetry. An EKG said A.Fib and
asked if I'd had heart attacks before this? I died of—

A place can be a people, just as grammar is the making of a religion.
Why does this language only desire nouns and noun states and not
move? Body of—

Listen: that year we were two eggs from one hen, dipped in black
ink. We were thrown at the portrait of the Chairman of Mao. A
thunderstorm washed us clean, washing the aberration.

But I've never had heart failure. But the machines insist. The
machines insist.

14 What I mean is: we were the aberration. What I mean is: Let me be
your country Let me be nothing for you.

Copyright © 2018 Henry Wei Leung All rights reserved
from Goddess of Democracy
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

Archives  Web Weekly Features  About Verse Daily  FAQs  Submit to Verse Daily  Follow Verse Daily on Twitter

Copyright © 2002-2018 Verse Daily All Rights Reserved